Codewords Issue 82

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1 February 2018

In this issue:

Welcome to the first edition of Codewords for 2018.

It’s been a warm start to the year so I hope you and your families had a good break and rest over the holiday period in the sun – and the rain – and you’re refreshed and ready for what will no doubt be a full-on year for our industry.

This edition of Codewords includes an article on designers’ regulatory responsibilities under the Building Act, a recent Building Practitioners Board decision and an article on the digitisation of ACC’s risk cards. We also recap two recent BC Updates on amendments to the Unreinforced Masonry Securing Fund, and the five commonly used Standards and handbook that are now free to download from the Standards New Zealand website. In addition, this issue has information on the two consultations underway on timber Standards.

For those of you who work in the earthquake-prone building space, MBIE has produced a short video introducing the national system for managing earthquake-prone buildings that I recommend watching and sharing. It explains why we have a national system and gives a brief overview of how the system works.

An early focus for MBIE in 2018 is on helping the new government get up to speed on strategic priorities, including KiwiBuild. Establishing KiwiBuild and delivering 100,000 affordable, quality homes over the next decade is a big task and its success will depend on the capacity and capability of our building and construction industry.

KiwiBuild offers challenges but also significant opportunities to encourage greater innovation and productivity across the sector.

Ensuring capacity for KiwiBuild will include increased use of existing methods to demonstrate that building work complies with the Building Code (eg multi-use building consent approvals). MBIE and Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa are also working to ensure there are clear pathways to gain building consents for new types of housing (such as medium-density, modular and prefabricated housing).

In addition, MBIE is working with the Minister to look at how skills and qualification levels can be strengthened.  This will not only help ensure KiwiBuild’s success but also support our industry to build it right and become more productive.

Clearly it’s going to be a busy year with a lot to achieve, but the building and construction sector is in a strong position and ready for both the challenges and opportunities, and I feel positive about 2018.

Anna Butler

Anna Butler

GM, Building System Performance

Code and technical changes

Standards seeks feedback on two public consultations

Standards New Zealand and two of its Standards Development Committees (P3602 and P3640) are seeking feedback on two public consultations: NZS 3602:2003 Timber and wood-based products for use in buildings, and NZS 3640:2003 Preservation of timber and wood-based products.

Timber is extensively used as a building material in New Zealand. NZS 3602 and NZS 3640 are critical for Building Code compliance and are referenced in Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods for B1 Structure, B2 Durability and E3 Internal Moisture.

NZS 3602:2003 Timber and wood-based products for use in buildings

This Standard sets out specifications for timber and wood-based products that are required to ensure specific building components are sufficiently durable to function for a specified intended life.

DZ3602 New Zealand draft Standard is available to view or download on the Standards New Zealand website.

The closing date for comments is 6 April 2018.

NZS 3640:2003 Preservation of timber and wood-based products

This Standard was published in 2003 and sets out the requirements for chemical preservative treatment to provide protection from decay and insects, including marine borers.

DZ3640 New Zealand draft Standard is available to view or download on the Standards New Zealand website.

The closing date for comments is 6 April 2018.

Note: This article was updated on 2 March 2018 to advise that the closing dates for comments were extended until 6 April.

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Making building Standards easier to access

Building Controls Update 226

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Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa announced today (15 December 2017) that the Government is making it easier for people to access information on best practice when designing and constructing buildings.

MBIE recently launched a new building system search engine, Building CodeHub, which helps people locate the latest building rules and guidance information for designing and constructing buildings. In addition, five commonly used building Standards and a handbook are now free to download from the Standards New Zealand website.

By making it easier for people to access building-related documents, MBIE hopes to see improved compliance with the Building Code, and more importantly, safer homes and buildings.

MBIE will continue to make the building system more accessible and is considering ways to improve access to more design and construction building Standards.

The five Standards and handbook are:

  • Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities (NZS 4121:2001) – provides solutions for making buildings and facilities accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
  • Housing, alterations and small buildings contract (NZS 3902:2004) – a plain English standard building contract.
  • Thermal insulation – housing and small buildings (NZS 4218:2009) – helps establish the levels of thermal insulation for houses and small buildings.
  • Interconnected smoke alarms for houses (NZS 4514:2009) – provides information about the placement and audibility of smoke alarms.
  • Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs (NZS 8500:2006) – describes barriers for residential pools including ways to assess their strength.
  • Handbook on Timber-framed buildings (selected extracts from NZS 3604:2011) – figures and tables to help design and construct timber-framed buildings up to three storeys high.

Building CodeHub helps you to access what you need to design and construct buildings that comply with the Building Code. 

Building-related Standards on the Standards New Zealand website has the Standards and further information.

Read the Minister’s announcement on the Parliament website.

Subscribe to Building Controls Updates

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Amendments to Unreinforced Masonry Building Securing Fund

Building Controls Update 227

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Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa announced today (21 December 2017) that the Government is making amendments to the $4.5 million Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Building Securing Fund.

The changes will allow the URM Fund to be used in a more flexible way and increase the amount available for large and complex buildings.

The Minister is also seeking to extend the amount of time before penalties are applied. The Minister will make further announcements about this, and seek feedback on potential changes, in early 2018.

The changes are in response to feedback MBIE has received from the sector regarding the affordability of the work, and the capacity of the sector to complete the work within the time frame. The changes aim to respond to these constraints while continuing to encourage building owners to quickly complete this safety-focused work.

The requirement to secure unreinforced masonry parapets and facades on buildings in certain areas of Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui was introduced on 28 February 2017. Owners of URM buildings in those areas have been notified by their council and are required to secure the street-facing parapets and facades on their buildings within 12 months of the date of the notice.

Securing unreinforced masonry building parapets and facades has more information.

Read the Minister’s announcement on the Parliament website

Subscribe to Building Controls Updates

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LBP knowledge link

LBP Registrar update (Codewords 82)

Welcome, 2018 is set to be another busy year for all those working in the industry so I hope you had a good and restful break over the Christmas period.

Paul Hobbs

In this edition of LBP knowledge we feature two regulatory articles. The first outlines designers’ responsibilities under the Building Act and follows our previous guidance on builders’ responsibilities in Codewords 81. The second article is about external plastering movement control joints. The external plastering article details the need for movement control joints in plaster cladding solutions to maintain durability and performance over time. 

On the technology front, the LBP website ( will soon be relaunched so watch out for some improvements in this space over coming months. The upgrade is intended to improve the information architecture (the visual appearance of the information), our content and ultimately the end user’s experience on the site. The LBP upgrade follows similar recent upgrades to MBIE’s and websites.

In other news, the Building Practitioners Board’s annual report for 2017 was published late last year and can be found on the LBP website. Some of the key parts of the report touch on complaint numbers, licensing appeals and approval of any new LBP Rules. The report also covers themes that have arisen from administering these functions.

As has been the case for the past few years, the Board has been kept busy considering a steady stream of complaints about LBPs. The report is worth a read, particularly if you wish to learn from other LBPs’ experiences of going before the Board to answer a complaint.

You can also read about a recent Board decision to issue a notable disciplinary decision about LBP Kim Jerard who was held to account for a range of serious offences relating to his conduct and performance as an LBP.

Lastly, I hope our content in Codewords is both helpful and informative. We will continue to refine and develop the content we offer, but please feel free to contact us if you want clarity about a technical, licensing or regulatory matter.

Paul Hobbs
Registrar Building Practitioner Licensing

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Designers – know your responsibilities

Under the Building Act 2004 people who take part in building work have certain responsibilities. In the last edition of Codewords we looked at builders’ responsibilities on-site, including those of licensed building practitioners (LBPs). This time we are looking at designers’ responsibilities.

Design licence class

Some of these responsibilities are highlighted under sections 14A–14G of the Act to ensure that if you take part in building work you are responsible for your part of the project.

Who is a designer?

Section 14D applies to designers. It states that, for the purposes of these responsibilities, a designer includes anyone who is preparing plans and specifications for building work (not necessarily under a building consent). It also includes giving advice about building work, compliance with the Building Code and whether or not the work requires a building consent.

This means that designers could include:

  • a person holding a Design licence (1, 2 or 3)
  • an architect who is preparing plans and specifications for a building consent application
  • an engineer engaged to inspect building work undertaken to ensure it is structurally compliant
  • a builder who takes on the role of a designer and drafts some plans for a client detailing building work that will not require building consent, such as a low-level deck.

Designers’ responsibilities

A designer has only one responsibility under section 14D, unlike a builder who has several under section 14E. The designer’s responsibility is to ensure that their advice or plans and specifications, if followed, will result in building work that complies with the Building Code. As the designer may not be involved in the construction, they are not responsible for whether the building work complies with the Building Code.

Designers’ obligations

It is important that designers are aware of their other obligations that relate to, but are not specifically mentioned in section 14D. This includes being aware of and not breaching any of the grounds for discipline for an LBP, which are set out under section 317. Other sections of the Act also state that you need to be licensed to carry out or supervise design restricted building work.

New competency added

In 2016, small changes were made to the competencies in the LBP rules for the Design licence class to keep them relevant and easier to understand. Also, a new competency was added for contract administration and construction observation, and applies to Design areas of practice 2 and 3. However, you should also be aware that contracting obligations were included in the other competencies for Design 1 licence class holders, as well as other minor changes.

Including elements of contract administration as a core competency indicates how important it is. A designer who acts inappropriately in their role of contract administration could face sanctions because such conduct might breach a ground for discipline relating to negligence or incompetence.

You can read more about the design competency changes in Codewords issue 76.

LBP competencies amended


1) As a designer, what are my obligations in relation to advice I give about building work?

a. You are responsible for ensuring that the builder carries out the building work in accordance with the Building Code.
b. Your advice should result in the work being compliant with the Building Code, as long as the advice is followed by others.
c. Everyone else must agree with your advice.

2) Did anything change last year for Design 1 licence holders?

a. No, the only change was a new competency for Design 2 and 3 licences.
b. Yes, some contracting obligations were included among other minor changes.
c. No, section 14D of the Building Act has not changed.

3) Is a designer responsible for ensuring Building Code compliance in plans when drafting plans for a small 2 m by 3 m shed on a property?

a. Yes, this responsibility applies to all building work.
b. No this work is exempt building work, only the builder is responsible for building it right.
c. No, but you need to get building consent for that.

Check answers

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Movement control joints in plastered finishes

Work on a plaster-based cladding system is restricted building work (RBW), unless you are doing repairs, replacement or maintenance work under Schedule 1. All RBW requires building consent and if you are doing the work you either need to hold an external plastering licence or be supervised by someone who does.

External Plastering licence class

Reduce risk of cracking

Cracking in external plastered claddings such as stucco and textured finishes is a potential source of water entry into the building structure. The cracking may be caused by movement from changes in temperature, moisture level or curing shrinkage, or from building movement due to wind or earthquakes.

Movement control joints, which allow movement to reduce the risk of cracking occurring, must be incorporated in plaster finishes. They manage cracking by providing predetermined lines of weakness or a flexible sealed joint in the plastered finish.

Locate joints during design

The locations of movement control joints should be determined at the design stage of the building project and should be based on the type of plastered or textured finish to be applied, as well as the overall ‘look’ of the building.

Movement control joint locations must be shown on drawings and not left up to the on-site plasterer. There is a range of options for vertical joints. However, horizontal joints should be flashed or have a cladding overlap.

Movement control joints in textured finishes

Textured plaster finishes include modified cement and acrylic plaster, and can be applied over a range of substrates. These include fibre-cement sheets, polystyrene, exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) cladding and polystyrene block systems, clay bricks, concrete masonry and concrete.

Locating the joints in textured finishes

The locations of movement control joints in the plaster finish vary according to the substrate type. The locations should align with any movement control joints in the substrate and occur where the substrate support changes, eg from solid to timber-framed construction. Locations for movement control joints are typically required:

  • vertically in accordance with the supplier's instructions, typically up to 5.4 m for fibre-cement and up to 20 m for EIFS
  • aligned with structural control joints
  • at each floor level for horizontal joints
  • vertically on either side of large window and door openings
  • at junctions between different materials.

Forming control joints in textured finishes

Vertical control joints are formed in fibre-cement and polystyrene substrates by filling the gaps between the substrate sheets with sealant. This is over either:

  • a bond-breaker tape between fibre-cement sheets (Figure 1) or
  • a polyethylene foam (PEF) backing rod between polystyrene sheets (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Vertical control joint – plaster finish over fibre-cement sheet

Figure 2: Vertical control joint – plaster finish over polystyrene sheet

Alternatively, a proprietary unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) expansion joint may be inserted between polystyrene sheets. The finish coat is then applied over the sealant or the expansion joint.

The sealant must be correctly installed to ensure that a waterproof joint is achieved. The sealant must:

  • stick to both sides of the joint
  • have a cross section that is thinner in the middle of the joint than at the edges
  • not adhere to the substrate material.

The joint ratio should be 2:1, eg for a 10 mm wide joint, and the sealant should be 5 mm deep at the centre of the joint.

Vertical control joints are typically between 6–18 mm wide depending on the substrate and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Inter-storey horizontal movement control joints are typically flashed with a metal flashing (Figure 3) and should have a minimum 15 mm-wide gap.

Figure 3: Horizontal control joint – plaster finish over polystyrene sheet

Movement control joints in stucco

Movement control joint requirements for reinforced stucco over a drained and vented cavity with a rigid or non-rigid backing are set out in NZS 4251.1: 2007 Solid plastering – Cement plasters for walls, ceilings and soffits.

Locating the joints in stucco

NZS 4251.1: 2007 requires control joints to be located:

  • for vertical joints:
    • on both sides of openings that are 2 m wide or more (Figure 4)
    • on one side of openings that are less than 2 m wide*
  • at each floor level (horizontal joints)
  • to break up expanses of wall more than 12 m2 (4 m maximum spacings vertically and horizontally is recommended)
  • at changes in a wall cross-section such as external and internal corners
  • at any point where natural flexing of the building may occur, such as at the top of a plate level of a gable wall, or where there is a cantilevered deck.

*Note: A vertical control joint is not required when an opening is less than 500 mm wide, or the area of the opening is less than 0.2 m2. Where the width of an opening is between 500 mm and 2 m but the opening is more than 0.2 m2, diagonal reinforcing is required at the corners opposite the movement control joint.

Figure 4: Vertical control joint locations in stucco

Forming joints in stucco

Vertical joints are formed by plastering up to a corrosion-resistant angle, T-section, proprietary jointing bead or temporary batten (Figure 5). Alternatively, for three-coat systems a V-groove may be cut through the lower (bond and flanking) plaster coats before they harden.

Fill the gap or groove that is created with a polyurethane, polysulphide or neutral cure silicon-type sealant inserted over a PEF backing rod, before the finish plaster coat is applied. Prime the joint edges before applying sealant because sealant will not stick to the plaster on both sides of the joint.

The joints should be 10–12 mm wide. Wire mesh or lath reinforcing must not be carried across the control joints.

Horizontal movement control joints are typically flashed (Figure 6) and should have a minimum 15 mm-wide gap.

Figure 5: Vertical control joint in three-coat stucco

Figure 6: Horizontal control joint in stucco


1. Who should determine locations of movement control joints?

a. the building owner
b. the plasterer on site
c. the architect/designer
d. the main contractor

2. In stucco plaster, vertical control joints are required on both sides of openings that are 2.0 m wide or more.

a. True
b. False

3. Vertical control joints in fibre-cement and polystyrene substrates may be formed by plastering up to an angle, T-section, proprietary jointing bead or temporary batten, or by cutting a V-groove through the lower plaster coats before they harden, then filling with sealant.

a. True
b. False

4. Joint sealant must adhere to the substrate or batten.

a. True
b. False

5. Vertical control joints in stucco may be formed by plastering up to an angle, T-section, proprietary jointing bead or temporary batten, or by cutting a V-groove through the lower plaster coats before they harden, then filling with sealant.

a. True
b. False

6. Joint sealant must adhere to both sides of the joint.

a. True
b. False

Check answers

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Board disciplines LBP for poor supervision and work practices

Licensed building practitioner (LBP) Kim Jerard was recently held to account by the Building Practitioners Board (the Board) for a range of serious offences relating to his performance, conduct and behaviour.

The Christchurch-based LBP was fined $4,500 and ordered to pay costs of $2,000 for what the Board considered to be underlying deficiencies in his awareness and understanding of licensing requirements. 

The Board found that Mr Jerard worked outside his area of competence in supervising external plastering work that he was not licensed to oversee. The Board stated that, “Plastering work that was restricted building work was carried out. As such it had to be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner with the appropriate class of license. On the basis that the Respondent was licensed in carpentry and not in plastering, he is found to have supervised building work of a type that he was not licensed to carry out or supervise.”

Mr Jerard was also found to have supervised substandard foundation and cladding work, which subsequently failed a series of council inspections. With respect to the workmanship of the foundations, the Board noted, “The building work on the foundations was, on the basis of the evidence heard, clearly below the standards to be expected of a licensed building practitioner. Mr Jerard has accepted that it was not to an acceptable standard. The matters are sufficiently serious enough to warrant a disciplinary finding of negligence.” 

During the hearing Mr Jerard enquired about how to effectively carry out supervision. The Board responded by strongly encouraging Mr Jerard to study the Practice Note on supervision, which was recently released by MBIE as a guidance document under the Building Act.

LBP Practice Notes are available on the LBP website.

Key learnings

This case shows the Board will hold LBPs to account where they have failed to meet the expected standard. The decision further emphasises that it is an LBP’s responsibility to remain current in the technical and regulatory knowledge that relates to their particular area of practice.

Key points to take from this decision:

  1. Always work within the limits of your class of licence and within your own competence.
  2. Read MBIE’s Practice Note on supervision.
  3. Regularly failing inspections is not a good look and you might have to explain why the work you undertook or supervised did not pass a building consent authority’s inspection process.

Complaints to the Building Practitioners Board on the LBP website has a guide to making a complaint about a licensed building practitioner. When a complaint is received, the Board follows the complaints process published on the LBP website.

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Working in construction? Put safety first with digital risk and safety cards

Recognising and managing your health and safety risks is easy with ACC’s digital risk cards. The digital cards provide relevant information on the risks specific to your trade or sector.

Supported by WorkSafe, this tool will help you work safely by providing best practice guidance and practical examples of how to keep everyone safe on-site.

The digital risk cards are based on the popular hard-copy cards that have been widely circulated and regularly used across the industry. Users have said the cards provide “a great go-to resource that helps workers discuss risks and become more aware of site conditions and hazards”.

Digitising the cards makes this important safety information even more accessible and gives you the ability to customise the information to your trade. You can search for the right risk information and share that quickly and easily with your workmates from your device.

The digital risk cards are your one-stop source of construction risk and safety information to help you have effective safety meetings and discussions with your team.

Make sure you know the risks, lead the way and save lives. Get the Construction Health and Safety Risk Cards now on the ACC Risk Cards website

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Recent determinations

Determination 2017/040 – Summary

Determination 2017/040 discusses when the fire engineering brief (FEB) process is required.


A building consent for alterations to a supermarket was refused by the building consent authority (BCA). Among other issues, the parties disagreed about the FEB process, which is when the scope of the fire engineering design and analysis required for a specific project is defined and documented. Once agreed by the project stakeholders, this scope provides the basis for the analysis. 

The BCA considered the FEB process to be a required part of C/VM2 (Verification Method: Framework for Fire Safety Design), while the owner disagreed.


C/VM2 is a Verification Method that must be accepted by a BCA as a means of compliance under section 19 of the Building Act. 

The determination noted the FEB is a key process under C/VM2.  This view was informed by paragraph 1.3 of C/VM2, which refers to the fire design requirements established during the FEB process. When C/VM2 is used as the means of establishing compliance with the Building Code the FEB must be carried out, though the nature and extent may vary depending on the particular project. 

Although the FEB is a fundamental process that must be used as part of the Verification Method, the determination stated this did not mean agreement was necessarily required on all issues arising during the process, and some parameters may also need to change as the fire design is developed. 

C/VM2 is not the only way to comply with the fire provisions of the Building Code. The determination stated that although the FEB process is not mandatory if an alternative solution is proposed, engaging in and documenting communication with stakeholders is important for minimising potential issues at a later stage.


The determination stated the BCA was correct to refuse to grant the building consent for the supermarket alterations, as there was insufficient information available to carry out the assessment required under section 112 of the Act.

Determination 2017/040 in full.

Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.

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Previous issues

About Codewords: Our Codewords newsletter is published six times a year. It will keep you up to date on the latest regulatory and related information for the building and construction industry.

Codewords issues are available for two years after their publish date. If the issue you are looking for is older, please contact us.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: